Monday, May 23, 2016

Beaching On the Cheap

Somebody asked for the essentials for beaching.  I try, as best I can, to do it as cheap as possible.  This includes buying extra swimmy suits at the end of the season when they are marked down 75% off.  Ain't no reason for a woman to show up at the beach with a six year old swimmy suit that the elastic is shot and her rear has a sag line, if you know what I mean!  It's best to have two or maybe three suits so that you will always have a clean one while the other is either drying or being washed.

When you travel to the beach as much as we do, you figure out that chair and umbrella rentals are expensive!  We opt to bring our own.  I like the Sportsbrella model the best because it is light weight and has the UV coating on the underside.  Luckily we have never had one tear up on us by the wind.  I use plastic anchors to hold the umbrellas in the ground.  I tried using a metal one once, but the tightening knob rusted shut after one season.

For me, I cannot do without my beach cart.  They roll great, til you reach sand, then you end up dragging to your spot, but it can carry just about everything you want to bring. We then collapse it at put it behind our chairs.

We like using sand spikes to hold our cups, and sometimes our electronic devices.  These spikes help keep the sand off your stuff.

This year we have added a Bluetooth speaker so we can listen to Internet radio or pandora.  Helps pass the time when the beach birds aren't flocking that day.

If you are into shelling, be sure to bring along a mesh bag and also pick up a dip net or shelling stick.  These are helpful in keeping the sea water out of your mouth when those rogue ways come your way.

Most resorts furnish beach towels that can be exchanged at some point for a clean one.  We tend to bring extras, just in case.

Toiletries are a no brainer, but you can pack a littler lighter by bringing the small sample sizes of shampoo and tooth paste to save room in your suitcase.

If you are bringing a wee one, a fitted sheet makes a great play pad.  Just put something substantial in the corners to keep the sheet stretched out tight.  Your wee one will have a ball and be "sand free" for the most part.

If you are doing the Condo thing, you need to pack a box with all the kitchen items that you will need:  washing powder pods, foil, paper supplies, seasonings, etc...

We bring along our margarita machine, ziploc bags, and all the ingredients for frozen ritas.  I freeze them overnight and use them as ice packs for the early part of the day, then by 11 or so, it's "5 o'clock somewhere"!

I've learned from other guests, that if you are flying in for your beach vaca, think about stopping by the resale and consignment shops for umbrellas and chairs.  You can either sales them back to the shops, or leave them at the complex for newly arriving guests to enjoy!

We usually cook at least half our meals at our unit and also do simple breakfasts and pack sandwiches and snacks for our all day stay beaching.  Bringing the basic seasonings from home help keep down the cost of the trip to the grocery store.

Once you are at the beach, enjoy yourself.  Respect others by not playing you music too loud, and pick up after yourself.  Be mindful not to feed the birds.  You will start a freezy, and some poor soul will get "bombed".

That's about it for this one.  Enjoy yourself, especially when you are beaching.  No problems, no worries, just wind, sand and surf!

Marco (Polo ) Island

I can honestly say that this place is one of the hardest locations to find something to write about.  We are here a month or so out of the "busy snow bird season".  For the most part, this is the most laid back locations that we have been to, which was just what we were looking for!

Here, you take your time to get up.  No rush to get to the beach, because there is hardly anyone here!  The sand is nothing like that up in the panhandle of Florida and the Bama Coast.  It's highly compacted, which makes walking and pushing your beach stroller a breeze.  Lots of shells in the sand, and especially along the waterline.

I finally learned to back some water shoes for going back and forth to the water.  We bought a shell scoop with is awesome for grabbing those finds in the water and on the shore and not have to bend over.

I've had a giggle or two, watching older retirees come out of the water carrying their noodle, or playing in the sand with their bucket and shovel!  I feel that I'm trapped on set of the next filming of the movie Cocoon!

The trip down here will wear on you, but once you get here and see that beautiful blue green water, the trip is worth it!

The only bird watching has been of the feathered kind.  The others are weathered, leathery, and have skin flaps like me!  Three birds were up to no good.  Two were getting along til a third crashed the party.  One flew off, later returning with a fish in his small beak.  He begang churping the loudest, til the other one left.  The third, was obviously a female.  She and the other soon left, I'm assuming to share in that fresh catch!  Women!

No need to do the chair and umbrella rental thing since there is no problem setting up your own.  I got all new chairs, new Sportsbrella umbrellas and a new Beach stroller.  Cup spikes are a must to keep the sand off the cups and electronic devices.  We added a Bluetooth speaker this year and bought a shell scoop when we got here, and it's the bomb!

The resort, the Charter Club, has a professional grilling station that will be utilized the rest of the week.  Since we are on the west coast of Florida, we don't want to miss too many of the sunsets from this awesome coastline.

The Everglades is a short distance away and an airboat tour is climbing up the bucket list fast.

The radio is playing, and the frozen margarita is melting, so it's time for me to get back to "wasting away"!

God Bless!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Roadside Sightings

I am so glad that the spousal unit and I travel so much by car.  There is so much to see along the road side, especially when you are not on the Interstate.

It's nice to see the progress being made along hwy 471.  The new route over the railroad track is going to be awesome.  We got stopped at the red light at hwy 80, and I look up and see this four man MDOT crew, walking down the center lane:

The lead guy had a hand held stop sign for the traffic.  The second guy had some type of survey device.  The third guy was on a cell phone, and I'm guessing the fourth guy was a requirement of any State MDOT contract!  As I'm watching, they would walk a bit, stop, then walk some more.  The lead guy stopped prematurely and they all looked like the keystone cops, almost making a pile of bodies in the middle of the road!

The next sighting was signage for a road side vendor.  I noticed the sign said "sweet taters for sale".  I laughed, knowing that the spousal unit hates the word "tater".  Well low and behold, we approached the next sign, and it said "sweet potatoes for sale"!  We both got a laugh seeing both versions from the same "tater truck"!.  How they make a living selling "taters" on the side of the road out of the back of a pickup is beyond me!

As we neared Hattiesburg on Hwy 49, I began seeing a lot of blue light activity.  As we got closer, it became clear that it was some type of escort, but who or what could it be??

The procession began with eight motorcycle patrolmen, followed by several police cars.  Then we see it.  It's the "Travelling Vietnam Memorial" which we can recognize  from the signage on the side of the trailer.

Following the truck and trailer was a steady stream of Patriot Riders, escorting the exhibit to its next stop, presumably Jackson.  Behind these riders were two additional patrol cars.

It was kinda neat seeing this procession of riders, paying repect to their fallen brothers.  I personally have not seen this travelling memorial, but it just made my bucket list!

Ed''s Burger

Robert St. John opened a new burger joint in Hattiesburg and I committed myself to stop by and give it a try on my next trip thru the Burg.

Since we were headed beaching today, lunch was a planned stop at Ed's.  On the way down, the spousal unit looked up the address and read a few reviews on Yelp.  Lots of negative press about the long lines, but you would think Robert St. John would have it all figured out by now.

True to form, Ed's is right next to all of Robert's other restaurants on Hardy Street.  Plan to walk a bit from the parking lot, since very few spaces are up close to the restaurant.  We showed up right after CSPIRE had given away free samples to their walk in customers.  No matter, AT&T here!

Just as the YELP reviews commented about the wait, yep, there was indeed a line, at 12:45.  We joined the others and grabbed a menu.  On the wall, was the storyline about the wait.

The footprint of the kitchen of the former restaurant that was in the building, limited them on being able to turn out volumes of food.  Solution, longer wait to order, with much shorter wait for the delivery of the food.  The public's response to Ed''s has till to this day, been overwhelming, for the staff and the owners!  On this day, Robert St. John was seen working the crowd.

Ed's is a 50's style burger joint.  Burgers are their specialty.  There are other items on the food menu.  They have all the drink orders covered, from tea, to soft drinks and even beer.  And you can finish up with a hand dipped milkshake.

We enjoyed our first visit, having tried the bacon jam burger and the chilli cheese burger, and of course, a milkshake!

Don't be in a hurry on your first visit, and try to pick an off peak hour so the lines won't be a turnoff to you.  Here are a few pics from our visit:
Food order on the way!

signage inside Ed's

self serve drink station

the decor!

chilli cheese burger

bacon jam burger

As Arnold used to say, "I'll be back"!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Life Lessons

Life is full of lessons to be learned.  If you are lucky, you only have to learn them once, twice if there is a slip up, or three or more if you are just to hard headed to learn, adapt or change.  Dang, there is a lesson right there!

I've been blessed to have had some mighty good people cross my path that have influenced me, one way or another.  Here are a few.

In the 6th grade I had a teacher named Mrs. Guy  at Belzoni Elementary, back before private schooling.  Mrs. Guy was one tuff cookie, and everybody feared that first day of school when you entered 6th grade, would she be the one you got?  I learned from her to always select the teachers that made you work harder.  It make you appreciate them more when you got one that didn't care as much or didn't push you near as hard.  After Mrs. Guy, I never feared going to the next grade or the next life adventure ever again.

Mr. Howell, my scoutmaster, growing up, picked me to be the junior assistant scout master.  On trips to Shiloh National Military Park, I never got past walking the first four trails.  I walked the same paths with the younger scouts, leading them through their walk through history, and showing them how to find the answers to the trail guide questionaire.  I thought, damn!  I'm missing out on the adventures that lay ahead on those other trails with the older guys.  Later I learned to appreciate learning through a younger set of eyes, watching and helping the new crop of first time trail walkers.  These lessons helped me later when I was called to lead others in the business world.

Mr. Jack Sutphen was my first employer right after I graduated from college with my accounting degree.  I learned more about the accounting profession in the first six months working with him compared to four years of schooling, or time spent at my other jobs during my working career.  Work hard, do your best, and the rest will come easy.  He was right.  In all my years of working, I never had to ask for a raise.

Jimmy Thompson, an entomologist in the Delta, took a chance on me during two summers of my college years.  He taught you what to look for, showed you how to do it, then dropped you off, with the expectation of receiving a full report when he picked you up.  He later used me in his tree service business.  I learned how to deal with customers, and how to work independently with little or no supervision.

My last college summer, I worked in the local community.  The town paid me $250  to help with the minor league and little league baseball programs.  I wasn't much of a baseball player after little league growing up.  When I went to get my drivers licence, I learned that I needed glasses.  No wonder I couldn't see or adjust to those fly balls in pony league!  The time spent with these boys at the baseball park that summer was time I'll never forget.  It taught me to have patience with others as they are learning.  Granted, that patience did grow thin over the years and I catch myself being impatient now in training new assembly techs.  When my boys started playing sports, all those earlier experiences came back to the surface when it was my turn to be "Coach Dad".

My good friend John Everett, caught me by surprise during year four of being a soccer dad with son #1.  John called me after soccer registration and said "if you don't step up and coach these boys, there are 12 young men that won't get to play."  That hit me right in the throat.  Growing up, my Dad was seldom there, because work always came first.  How could I not do it.  For the next two years I was miserable, trying to coach while wanting to be just a dad to Matthew.   But, now, I wouldn't trade those two years for a million dollars.  I learned to appreciate the game of soccer, it prepared me for when it was man cub's turn, and to never stand close to a soccer mom in the heat of the game!

My most valuable lesson was learned at age 12.  I was out on the farm, helping reload the planter that spring.  My grand father told me that I was "a worthless piece of crap "  since my butt wasn't on a tractor.  Our relationship died then and there.  I didn't "do farming" after that, and I was bound and determined to do something other than farming with the rest of my life. All things considered, I think things turned out ok.

Both my boys are now adults.  I hope that they have picked up my few good traits  and left the bad ones way behind.  Time will tell.  Fingers crossed......

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Let's Play Ball! in February?????

Made a sale of two of my ice chest cooler boxes to a new friend, Teresa Matthews in Starkvegas, courtesy of my friend Jan.  Teresa needed them mid March.  MSU had a baseball double header, so I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone, weather permitting, of course.  After all, its still February!

Plans were made, and the trip was set.    I got up this morning with a promise of a high for the day of 62 degrees.  The early morning temperature was a mere 34 degrees with frost on the window.  The coolers were already in the back of the big ass Dodge Hemi, so all I had to do was defrost and go!  Man cub's girly friend even gave him permission to spend some quality time with dear ole Dad.  The closer I got to Starkvegas, the more excited I got.  Once I passed through Louisville, I sent Teresa a text, telling her I'd be there soon with the delivery of her two cooler boxes.

The GPS is a funny thing.  For fun, I followed its instructions to a T.  It had me turn right off of Hwy 25, right before you get to HWY 82, on Reed Road, which turns into Garrard, then to Old West Point Road.  I saw stuff I'd never seen before.  I even crossed North Montgomery, a mile north of our Condo.  I ended up on a gravel road, then made the insurance call to make sure I was in the right place for the delivery.  Confirmed!

After meeting Teresa and her husband Gerald, we discovered how small the world is.  Teresa's Aunt and Uncle were Pete and Cricket King, from my home town of Inverness.  Turns out we had several friends in common as well.  Delivery complete, it was time for some MSU baseball!

I picked up the man cub, then the search for a parking spot began.  MSU had tennis, basketball, and baseball going on at the same time.  I suggested a spot near the architecture school.  Man cub said "no way, too far to walk!  Go behind the Hump!"  Well!  around in circles we went!  All lots were preassigned, especially with both basketball and baseball happening at the same time.  Man cub looked over at me and said,"I hate it when you are right!" (most of the time :-) )

As we made our way to the ball park, an older gentleman was holding up two tickets.  I stopped and asked "basketball or baseball?"  He replied "baseball, two chairback seats and a double header, $20".  Well that was a no brainer, even if the man cub could get in free with his student ID.  Dad was gonna be a big spender today!  And wouldn't you know, the seats were right behind home plate, row 2, and seats on the end of the row.  Winner, winner chicken dinner!

It wasn't long before an older than me couple sat down in front of us.  They were loyal baseball fans that have been coming for years.  The guy even offered us two tickets for free for Sunday's game, which we politely declined, since we were there just for the double header, and man cub needed to study on Sunday.  I made it a day trip visit since with the live in girly friend, its hard to sleep triple in a queen size bed, if you know what I mean....

It wasn't hard to strike up a conversation with our neighbors.  I asked the man cub how his arts and crafts class projects were going.  The lady spun her head around, then commented "you're taking arts and crafts?  My granddaughter goes here and she takes arts and crafts.  Maybe ya'll are in the same class!"

One of the items that I brought with me was "the ring".  I asked him what his plans were with "the ring".  Before he could answer, the lady spun around and said, "you're giving your girl a ring?  I hope she says yes!  You seem like a nice boy!  Yep, She'll say yes!"  We just looked at each other and chuckled, wondering what other topics the lady might be interested in.....

The husband left to get some food.  He came back with a handful of food including two hot dogs.  I asked " did you dress hers like she likes it or the way you like it?"  He replied "her way, of course!"  The lady looks at me, said they like it the same and winked at me!  Lord!  For a second, I thought she was flirting with me!

Our seats were absolutely fantastic, except for one thing.  The whole time we were at the game, we were in the shade.  I asked the couple, does the sun ever shine on these seats????  The reply was "NEVER!", a good thing in late April and the month of May, but quite chilly on this late February afternoon!

After the first game was over, we stopped at concessions for a snack, then made our way over to the 3rd base bleachers for some warmth.  Within 30 minutes the sun was again already behind the home stands, making even more shade.  Since neither of us had ever been to the "Left Field Lounge", we decided to stretch our legs, find some more sun rays, and see what it was all about.  No sooner had we gotten around the MSU pull pen, one of the lounge lizards was offering us a taste of homemade brats and pig wings!  That was some fine eating!

As we worked our way over to the third base side, we were able to get a good look at the "Left Field Lounge Redneck Skyboxes"!  These contraptions have to be mobile so that once the baseball season is over, they all mist be removed.  Some of this will change with the renovations that are planned get underway.  It was really neat to see and smell the sights and hear the sounds of the game.  You can see and smell the charcoal smoke in the air and start guessing what might be cooking on the grills.  There was also the smell of recently boiled mudbugs in the air as well.  

Being a people watcher, the man cub noticed, jabbed me in the side, and said "Dad, you're supposed to be watching the game!"  Gals were there wearing every fashion available, with their high top Converse sneakers, boots, and flippers!  And as custom, all the young bucks were right behind with ice chests with locks in tow.  A fella can get awful thirsty, watching, at a baseball game, especially from the lizard lounge!

MSU won both games of the double header.  I came out a winner too!  Saw 2 games, plenty of bird watching, and best of all, quality time with the man cub, minus the lady with the sonar ears! Its always a good time to be had when you hear the words "play ball!" and this good time will be revisited, as we have tickets for two games when the spousal units Black Bears come to town in a month.

Time next time!  

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Roadie Trip Like No Other-Gibbes Country Store

Well, this week, some of my Hotty Toddy friends decided it was time for a Roadie trip to Bolton, Mississippi and then on to Learned, MS for dinner at Gibbes Country Store.  This was kinda a spur of the moment trip, with not a lot of planning, but ended up with a party of eight.

In my work with HD, I travel to Vicksburg quite a bit, and I always see the exit sight for the town of Bolton.  I know several folks that live in the area, but I've never managed to exit right going in either direction.  Turns out that my friend Danny owns the Chevron station right off the exit.

We made it to town, half following my GPS lady Brenda and half listening to friend Janice on the back seat.   We make the final turn to Gina & Danny's place, and sitting in the driveway is a 1962 Cadillac  limousine!  Danny has restored it to working order, and this car was going to be our ride to dinner!

This car reminded me of the black Lincoln in the Animal House movie that John Belushi when nuts in during the parade scene.  I knew this was going to be a fun trip when I noticed the crescent wrench on the floor board of the front seat!  You have never so many cigarette lighters in one vehicle.It even has two pop up booster seats that come out from behind the front seats and the floor.  Danny had a special surprise for us.  He has a fire engine siren hooked up to this bad boy of a car, and once we got outta town he let it rip!

Our first stop was in Raymond to drop off  G&D's daughter with spend the night folks.  We were passed by two of Hinds County's finest along the way, and Danny did not realize that he had his bright lights on when they passed.  He kept looking in his rear view mirror checking to see if one of them was doing a u-turn!  That would have been fun, since there were seven in the car and not a single seat belt to be found.  Once we had delivered our precious cargo we were off again.

Danny looked at me and said "don't even try to figure out how we're getting to the restaurant, because the return trip home will be a different route!"  At this point you had to wonder what ole Danny Boy might have stashed in the trunk of that big old Caddie?!!!  Some of the roads were were travelling on had lost their stripes, and it was like, "where in the hell is he taking us????"  It was obvious where the lines were drawn between City, County and State funded road maintenance!

We finally made it to our destination, Learned, MS, and the Gibbes Country Store.  Your gotta look this town up on Google Maps.  I would love to heard the story of how the restaurant got started.  Learned is literally out in the middle of nowhere!

The restaurant is in an old dry goods store from days past.  There is still merchandise on the shelves, and lots of memorabilia up top.  The cook uses an old charcoal fire pit to do all the cooking.  The owners only accept cash and checks.  No point bringing a credit card, because there is no cell signal or wifi for miles in this neck of the woods.  They serve soft drinks, tea, watrer and beer.  Other than that its BYOB.   The menu is limited, and served on paper plates.  In spite of an overflow crowd on the front porch, our wait was fairly short.

Here are some pictures of the food that was consumed on this night.  And dang it! I forgot to take pics of dessert!

hamburger steak



lamb chop

With Great friends, good food, and a few bottles of wine, a great time was had by all.   The ride back to Bolton was as fun as the trip over!  I suggested we ride by my buddy Buster Trigg's house  and run the siren or honk the horn as we re-entered Bolton.  Danny looked at me and said "son, this ain't the big City, if you know what I mean"!

Can't wait for the next roadie trip with this motley crew!